On Tuesday, YouTube unveiled YouTube TV, its competitor to cable and satellite television that delivers a package of traditional TV channels over the internet for $35 a month.
There’s a lot to like about YouTube TV, such as the low price point, cloud DVR, and integration with YouTube’s other offering.
But the streaming-video service has a huge programming hole compared with traditional cable.
YouTube TV is primarily based on deals with the four big broadcast networks: CBS, Fox, ABC, and NBC. This means YouTube gets access to content from those networks plus about 35 of their affiliated cable channels, according to Bloomberg – that includes “ESPN, Disney Channel, MSNBC, National Geographic, and Fox News.”
But YouTube hasn’t struck deals with some marquee cable networks like Turner, Discovery, Viacom, AMC, and A&E. That means no CNN, TBS, TNT, History, AMC, A&E, Comedy Central, HBO, and so on.
Though its programming offering isn’t as robust as its competitors – AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Sony’s Vue, and Dish’s Sling – YouTube said that trying to replicate the traditional TV bundle would be too expensive. It’s going after people, particularly younger ones, who don’t want to pay for a big bundle.
Sports offerings, however, was something YouTube was eager to keep intact.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki told Bloomberg that YouTube TV is designed to be “great for sports lovers” and that it will include pro and college football, basketball, baseball, and other sports.
“YouTube TV includes major sports networks like ESPN and regional sports networks like Fox Sports Networks and Comcast SportsNet, so you can watch your favorite NBA or MLB teams,” YouTube said in a press release. “We’ve also partnered with local TV stations, so you’ll also get sports and local news based on where you live.”
Still, YouTube is missing the rights from Turner, for instance, which shows a ton of sports: NBA games, the NCAA basketball tournament, MLB, and others.
YouTube TV’s programming could expand over the next few years, and there could be additional price tiers eventually, YouTube said.
Streaming rights are incredibly complicated, and YouTube TV is facing regional problems that have plagued competitors like DirecTV Now. That’s why it will launch in “limited US markets, where it has full coverage,” according to Recode’s Peter Kafka (and why you won’t be able to stream NFL games on your phone).